Mr. Nickell was born on August 17, 1925, in Eddyville, Ky. A veteran of World War II, Mr. Nickell was inducted into the U.S. Army prior to receiving his high school diploma. He fought with the 106th “Golden Lions” Infantry Division in the Rhineland and Ardennes campaigns and suffered severe injuries during the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the EAME Ribbon, two Bronze Service Stars, the Combat Infantry Badge and the Purple Heart.
Mr. Nickell obtained a bachelor of arts degree in physical education from the University of Kentucky in 1950. Unable to accept athletic scholarships offered at U.K. and the University of Tennessee due to his wartime injuries, Mr. Nickell trained to coach while serving as a student medical trainer for U.K. football Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and basketball coach Adolph Rupp.
He subsequently obtained his master’s degree in education administration at Murray State University.
Upon graduation from college, Mr. Nickell served as a teacher, superintendent, administrator and coach at area public schools, including Metropolis High School, Unity Elementary School and Maple Grove Elementary School in southern Illinois.
He was a member of Fountain Avenue United Methodist Church in Paducah.
Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Anna June Starrett Nickell; two sons, Dr. Duane Starrett Nickell and wife Karen of Indianapolis, Ind. and Judge Christopher Shea Nickell and wife Carolyn of Paducah; two granddaughters; and several nieces and nephews.
He was proceeded in death by his parents, Thomas Reese “Nick” and Velina Sibyl Nickell; two brothers, Thomas Reese “T. R.” Nickell Jr. and Cecil “Big Boy” Nickell; and one sister, Virginia “Jenny” Louise Willoughby.
Funeral service was held Saturday at Broadway United Methodist Church in Paducah with Rev. Jerry Hoover, Dr. Gregory Waldrop, Dr. Nathan Joyce and Dr. Richard Beck officiating.